A Whole New World

She woke to rain, of course.

Heading to the Yggdrasil office, the umbrella which had raised brows in the country drew admiring second glances as she wove through the city streets.

She had been in fairly regular email contact with Hel’s offsider, Ganglöt, in the preceding week, so had some idea of what to expect, and what to do, on her arrival.

The sun was slowly gaining the upper hand as she arrived at the plant-covered building, watery rays of light dancing across the wet shine of leaves. Very different to the severe steel and glass of its neighbour on one side, and romantically crumbling brick on the other.

A gust of wind sent a flurry of drops from the jungle above onto her umbrella and she tucked herself into the recess for the front door.

The building was closed, but there was an intercom with a sign directing people to press the buzzer. She called. Hel answered.

When Calypso identified herself, Hel replied. “Good, I told Ganglöt you wouldn’t be frightened off by the prospect of dealing with Patricia. Take the lift to the lower ground level.”

She slipped through the door, making sure it clicked shut behind her, then did as instructed, and found herself in a large open space. Hel was standing in the middle of it, frowning at a tablet in her hands.

She turned as Calypso walked in. “This is going to be our large events area. When you’ve helped at events in the past, what worked and what didn’t?”

Calypso thought back to the evenings she’d spent running around on Z Corp showings, networking functions and information evenings for grads and interns. She made a couple of tentative observations and as Hel nodded and made notes, warmed to it, with further thoughts, suggestions and concerns.

Hel smiled when she finally wound down, it was as disconcerting as the first time. “I think you’ve just found your first side project.”

Calypso gulped. “My what?”

Hel replied. “Your side project. Reception’s going to be very quiet to start out, and there’s no point letting your interest in this sort of thing go to waste.”

She thought about it. Hel was right, she was interested in this. It was in a very similar vein to the homewares project. She asked. “What if I get it wrong?”

“You won’t get all of it wrong. We just learn from the elements that aren’t quite right, fix them up and move on. I don’t have time for huffing and puffing and pointing fingers at people who were doing their best. I also don’t have time for people who don’t do their best.”

Hel moved back in the direction of the lifts, Calypso followed. Her new boss continued. “Case in point, Patricia’s performance on reception. We’ll see how she goes as an administration assistant.”

When they reached the ground level again, Patricia was huddled against the front door, scowling.

Hel sighed. “Not a good start. Her access card was changed on Friday to only admit her once the building was open. Why did she not use the intercom?”

Calypso said. “If she knows you’re the one answering it, maybe she didn’t want to interrupt any meetings you might be having.”

Hel raised a brow, the one on the pristine side of her face. “Unexpectedly kind, but maybe a little too forgiving. We shall see.”

Hel showed Calypso the code for unlocking the door, then handed her an access card. “This will let you into the building any time, Ganglöt will send the security code to your phone.”

Patricia scurried inside, hunched and sulky. She addressed the air halfway between Hel and Calypso. “So, what’s my job?”

Hel looked at Calypso who, thanks to Ganglöt, was ready with an answer. “You’ll be setting up a courier log spreadsheet, then going back over every email or signed confirmation you can find, so we have a record of what’s been sent and delivered.”

Patricia was startled enough to look at her. “A what?”

Oh dear. Calypso repeated. “A spreadsheet, listing all the things the couriers pick up and deliver.”

“I don’t know how to do a spreadsheet, I’m a receptionist.”

Calypso gave her Aphrodite’s faintly surprised look. “So am I, and I can do a spreadsheet.”

Patricia looked at her feet. “Yeah but you got all the fancy training and stuff. I didn’t.”

That one startled Calypso into a laugh. “My fancy training consisted of being plonked in front of a computer and told to deal with it. Your fancy training starts now, but I promise to answer questions when you have them.”

With that, she turned and headed for the reception desk, rounding it and switching the two computers on. She typed the login details she’d been sent into the one without black and purple stickers.

In and running. She switched the phones to day mode, checked for messages (none), and started going through the email messages waiting for her.

She looked up, both Hel and Patricia were looking at her. “What?”

Hel smiled. “Just nice to see efficiency.”

She turned to Patricia. “Don’t waste your chance.”

Her gaze returned to Calypso. “Don’t get too settled, you need to learn how the rest of the building is organised.”

Calypso stood again. “Of course.”

She grabbed her note book and pen, and followed Hel to the lift.

Hel swept out a hand. “You’ve seen the bottom level. This is open work and meeting space. We’re installing a food truck over the weekend, it’ll sit against the far wall and serve coffee and snacks. It’s an extra source of income; not significant, but it all contributes.”

The first floor was the Yggdrasil administration level. Nearly empty at that moment, but Hel assured her it would fill fast.

The next two floors were hotel-style accommodation. Hel seemed to enjoy Calypso’s surprise.

“It means we can do more for people based further away, and eases concerns anyone might have about travelling home alone late at night.”

She smirked. “Also, when we bring in guest advisors and mentors, I don’t have to pay extortionate hotel bills.”

Workspace for the start-ups took up Levels Four and Five. Level Six was meeting rooms and a spacious board room.

Hel paced its perimeter. “Sad fact but true, impressions count. This floor is for showing off to potential investors.”

The top floor was still under construction and opened to a broad roof terrace.

Hel said. “A bar.”

Calypso looked around. “Impressions, income, or both?”

Hel replied. “Both. In a city as expensive as this one, any space that can do double duty is a good one.”

As they returned to the lift, Calypso asked. “Where will you get your staff from?”

“I’d like to work with a local group that trains and places disadvantaged youth. Unfortunately, their first placement hasn’t been terribly successful.”

Calypso asked. “Patricia?”

“Just so.”

As the lift descended, Calypso said. “I’m probably going to have some questions about the event space project. Should I send them to you, or Ganglöt?”

“Me.” And with that, Hel disappeared onto Level One.

Calypso returned to the ground floor to find Patricia trying to look casual and unconcerned. The tense set of her shoulders said otherwise.

She said nothing, however, so Calypso finished with the email list she’d opened before her tour, and started her project file for the event space.

Patricia snarled. “Fine. What do I have to do?”

Calypso mentally set aside the rest of the morning.

Patricia proved a surprisingly quick study, especially once Calypso agreed to call her Tish. She spent the morning frowning at her computer screen, not noticing the calls and messages coming through on her phone.

She scowled at the interruption when a courier arrived, until she realised this was what she’d been making that first spreadsheet for. Calypso had a feeling there may have been a couple more created for other purposes, but wasn’t about to pry.

After the courier left, Tish eyed Calypso suspiciously. “What?”

Calypso realised shed been staring. “Sorry, you remind me of someone and I’m trying to work out who.”

Tish prickled up. “No one. I don’t remind you of anyone. Stop staring. I need to format the dates better.”

“Hephastus.”

“What?”

“You remind me of Hephastus when he’s figuring out some new program or finding a bug in some code. You don’t look like him, but you focus in the same way.”

Tish asked. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Calypso nodded at the phone sitting next to Tish’s elbow. “Were you deliberately ignoring those?”

The purple-haired girl looked down. “What? I never heard it. Did you switch it to silent?”

“I haven’t touched it, and it most definitely hasn’t been on silent. Sitting at Reception’s not great for concentration but you’ve powered through a heap of interruptions in the past couple of hours.”

Hel appeared. “I’m meeting with a possible new investment group. Sort out your lunch roster and email me those questions this afternoon.”

Calypso nodded and returned to her research on flexible room fit-outs. As she did so, she said. “That’s the third time Hel’s been past this morning. She wants to know what area I think you should be reassigned to.”

Tish’s eyes went wide. “What does that mean? She said I could stay on.”

Calypso leaned forward. “Definitely staying on, it’s just that with your work this morning, she’s realised you’re not suited to reception, but really well suited to a couple of other areas.”

“What. Like loo cleaning?”

Calypso rolled her eyes. “It would help if you weren’t so determinedly negative all the time. Not like loo cleaning. Like IT Support or Accounts, or if you’re more interested in right-brain activities, then Graphic Design. Or all of the above. She did say we needed to be flexible.”

Tish dropped her gaze. “Um…”

Calypso sighed. “Go and get some lunch. You have forty five minutes, then we’ll swap. If you’re interested, we can talk about other areas after I get back.”

Reception was as quiet as Hel had predicted. By the time Tish returned, Calypso had sent the email of questions to Hel and was wondering how to fill the afternoon.

She found a café and treated herself to a sit-down lunch and time out. She’d forgotten her book, so it turned into half an hour of thinking time she wasn’t sure she wanted. Was there a future with Herne? Should she be paying more attention to the Fates? What on earth was the situation with Amy and her family? What did Zeus really want from her? What should she do about her father’s letters?

She left the café with the beginnings of a headache. It was a relief to walk back into the office and focus on work, and Tish’s belligerent questions.

She’d started even before Calypso had sat down. “What if I don’t know which area I want to go into?”

Calypso sat, got comfortable, checked for messages (none), then replied. “You do research. Search for information on people working in those areas, look at job ads for them and see what they say. If one or two look interesting, see what skills are needed, then look up online courses and how-to information.”

Tish looked worried. “Right now?”

“You can start now. I’d expect it to take several days, given you need to be doing work as well.”

The younger woman frowned. “I’m allowed to do this in work time?”

Calypso shrugged. “It’s for the benefit of the company isn’t it? If you find a role here you like and do well, then you’ll stick around, get better and the business will improve as a result.”

Tish didn’t reply to that, she turned to her computer and started tapping at the keyboard, mumbling to herself.

Calypso left her to it. Easier than asking her to field any of the phone calls that came through. There weren’t many of them and most were answered quite easily with the information on the company’s website.

For the harder ones, she took contact details and sent them to Ganglöt for advice.

She was still left with a lot of time for research of her own, on the event space. And maybe one or two detours into thoughts about the homewares range. This new project had brought the old dreams back up again.

Hel returned mid-afternoon, nodding as she passed. “I’ll have the replies to your questions tomorrow. But in summary, I want it fast and am prepared to pay for it.”

Calypso grinned. “Wonderful. Once I know the types of events you’re picturing, I’ll start pulling some concepts together.”

Hel looked at Tish, who looked guilty, but continued speaking to Calypso. “And how’s your assistant shaping up?”

“She has a talent for spreadsheets, and I’ve asked her to look into skills she’d like to develop.”

Hel asked Tish. “And what skills would those be?”

Tish scowled. “I don’t know yet. I’m looking at job descriptions for different departments in businesses and bookmarking the ones that look okay.”

“And what do your friends think?”

The girl looked blank, then shot a glance at her phone. “I don’t know; I haven’t spoken to any of them today.”

Both Hel’s brows shot up. “Impressive. See you keep it up.”

She disappeared into the lift area and Tish blew out a breath. “That’s the nicest she’s been to me…ever.”

Calypso’s answer was forestalled by the swish of the front door. Hermes. She groaned. “What do you want?”

Tish’s jaw dropped. “Did you just?… I am so telling Hel.”

Calypso handed her the desk phone. “Go ahead, just make sure you tell her Hermes is here while you’re at it.”

She turned to the courier. “I presume you’re here to see her? To try and threaten her with the might of Z Corp like you did Bridgid?”

Hermes looked a little pale. “Did you just say Hel?”

“Yes.”

“As in Valhalla Investments Hel?”

Calypso frowned. “I believe she worked for them before founding Yggdrasil, yes.”

Hermes backed away from the desk. “Right, lovely, nice place you have here, very green. I’ll be seeing you around…sometime…maybe.”

The door closed behind him.

Calypso said. “That was strange.”

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